Monday, January 31, 2011

Washington, DC: Food Review, Spanish and Italian

"Dad, I ate lunch with K at a tapas bar! It was great!"

"You ate at a topless bar?!"

Yes, it happened. My middle of America father misunderstood tapas for topless, which is an easy mistake to make when you're unfamiliar with different cuisines. I'd heard of tapas in my many years of Spanish language education but never had the opportunity to eat them until I was in DC. The day of the Restoring Honor rally with Glenn Beck was warm and long. My roomie KM and I were famished after standing for 3 hours or so in the warm sun, so we walked off the mall into downtown DC/Penn Quarter area. We stated we would eat at the first restaurant we found that wasn't too busy. We stumbled upon Jaleo...the tapas bar owned by chef Jose Andres. They/It was delicious! I ordered three things that were absolutely amazing! I had canteloupe wrapped in serrano ham, spicy chorizo wrapped in fried potatoes, and dates wrapped in bacon and fried. The dates were so incredibly delicious I couldn't stop eating them and was terribly disappointed when they were gone. It was the perfect treat, sweet and salty....yum! I did take a picture of the chorizo because they stacked it so nicely! See...I love how presentation is just as important as the food itself.

I returned to Jaleo a few weeks before I left with my roomie J. We hit up the lunch special with a sandwich and salad. While my sandwich was not quite what I imagined, my salad was phenomenal. It was green apples, fennel, manchego cheese, walnuts and an olive oil/sherry dressing! All of those flavors together were so amazing! I would recommend Jaleo to anyone going to DC. It's a nice place to go alone or with someone else and then you can eat way more by sharing items ordered!

Italian is my absolute favorite food! I traveled to Italy a year ago and ate some of the most memorable meals there. In DC, due to the amount of Thai food I was consuming, I surprisingly ate very few Italian dinners. But those that I did eat were delicious. The first weekend I was in DC, two of my friends that I met on my trip to Italy were also in town. We made it a point to get together for dinner one evening and of course what better reunion that eating Italian. We ate at Cafe Italia. With four meals ordered, we had mixed reviews but the portions were large, the atmosphere was lovely and the wine was delicious. The owner was quite generous and gave our table free amaretto shots!

A few weeks before I left I finally got together with two other friends from my Italy trip that go to school at George Mason. We decided what better than Italian again, though their second choice was to take me to Jaleo...see its amazing! We ended up at Dino's in Cleveland Park. We all went for their 3-course meal for $39 special. I enjoy potato croquettes as my antipasti, canneloni verde with kale and spinach, and pistachio crumb cake. I also had a delicious spicy red wine. Restaurants like that do meals the way they should be done, bringing out amazing flavors and allowing for people to enjoy their conversations over the delicious food.

This post has me wanting some bacon wrapped dates and a glass of wine. You should definitely visit these restaurants while you're in DC! If you are staying in the Crystal City area, there are quite a few little Italian restaurants as well as another Jaleo you should check out!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Washington, DC: Food Review, Thai

I love food. I love trying new things in restaurants and cooking new things at home. So in DC, I tried to eat out as much as I could afford and eat as many different things as I could. I started out enjoying things from all over: Thai, Spanish, French...but I discovered favorites and returned again and again.

First off, Thai food is fabulous. My friend TY and I would eat Thai food almost once a week. Our favorite was Thai Old Town in Old Town Alexandria. To find it, go to the King Street stop on the Metro and walk about 12 blocks toward the waterfront. It's on the south side of King Street across from the city hall. Reasons it was our favorite: huge portions, low prices and great servers. I swear we were never thirsty in that place, they were very on top of refills. Our favorite was the Pad Thai, but I also loved the Pad See Ew.

Another great Thai restuarant that isn't quite as easy to get to but was hands down the BEST meal I ate in DC...I was dreaming about it for the next week is Thai Square in Arlington. I really wish I could remember the name of my dish, but I can't. All I know is that it was delicious and pretty much anything you order there is fabulous. I do remember we ordered the fried squid and sun dried beef which were so good, I almost cried.

Mai Thai was also amazing. Though it is a chain(there is one located in DC proper), it was so yummy! We frequented the Mai Thai in Old Town because of the amazing location. It's right next to the Waterfront! We would often go to dinner there and then walk around on the pier. For a girl from landlocked Kansas, I loved being next to the water! One of the amazing dishes from there was their Cashew Chicken. I know that's more of a Chinese dish, but they did it perfectly. Also, try an apple martini and think of me if you do!

source: Local Kicks

I think that I will make this post just about Thai food otherwise it will be sooooo long. I'll post about my other favs in following posts!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, and make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just breathe

Wow the past 5 days have been insane and not at all what I expected. Last week started out rough because of reasons I'll get to later or hopefully I won't have to. But I was feeling pretty low and bummed and trying to figure out my path. Then on Friday, I was getting ready to head back to Lawrence and my family found out my grandpa had passed away. This put my life on hold. My grandpa was 86 years old and had lived a full life and was ready to go but I still was not expecting his passing to come so soon. It makes me realize that we never know what's going to happen so we need to make sure we always tell those we love how we feel. Always. Needless to say I have been on quite the emotional rollercoaster over the past week and a half, especially the past 4 days with not many highs. However, I have done a ton of thinking and have sooo many ideas for things to write about so hopefully I'll be posting lots soon. Not that anybody reads this yet, but I feel I need to explain my lack of postings, not that there were that many to begin with. I think I just needed to write something. haha.

So I'll leave you all with a picture of my sweet grandfather and I. It was taken last April at our Easter celebration. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Do you ever think you get to the point where you don't know what you want to do so you just say something and start pursuing it? After a while it becomes who you are and all you know and you feel like you can't do anything but what you said, even though that's not where your heart is really at? What if your true dream seemed so outside of the realm of possibility that you were afraid to tell the world? So you began living and believing something that seemed acceptable and good...but deep down you always had doubts. You believed you could something much bigger and more exciting. Then one day those doubts had the chance to come to the surface and no one believes you. No one believes that you can do anything different because you led such a convincing role for so long. And when you finally had the chance to talk about your other dreams, no one will listen. The fear can either overtake you at this point and you can stick with your accepted plans or you can say, "screw you world" and go after what you'd really like to do.

I am finally realizing I can be anything and do anything, I just need to make up my mind. With my college graduation looming five months away, that needs to happen quickly.

So this is where I'm at. I've been living a good life, doing good things to get me to a place I've said I'd like to be; but really I feel I can do more, that I have this dream bigger than anyone knows, but I need someone to support me. I need you to support me.

Words of Wisdom: Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. ~Buddha

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. ~Douglas Adams

Monday, January 10, 2011

I LOVE Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking is the one thing I love to do in any mood. If I'm sad, I bake and it cheers me up. If I'm happy, I bake and dance around the kitchen. I like to bake things to give away as gifts and like having baked goods as my go to item for gatherings with friends or family. I just love to bake!

So yesterday, as a snow storm was brewing and it was cold outside and I was feeling a little down in the dumps, I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. Not just any chocolate chip cookie but the softest chocolate chip cookie ever. I got this recipe from a friend in grade school. Her mother made these for birthday parties or if we just went up to her house to hang out and they were the best!

The secret ingredient...that makes them so tasty and possibly so soft (though I'm not really a science kind of gal, so I don't know the science behind achieving a soft cookie) is a package of vanilla pudding!

I tried to do a step by step photographs of the baking process but I have a problem with prolonging the baking process to clean off my hands and take another photo, so photos are few and far between.

The ingredients:

you can see here we have the main ingredients flanked by my mom's giant containers of flour and sugar. Eggs are missing from this photo...they kept rolling away.

I then mixed and mixed and mixed...the dough is really stiff.

The recipe calls for an entire 12 oz bag of chocolate chips...let me say now...half is plenty. You can see there's an overload of chocolate chips in the photo. I was pouring away and then i realize there are way too many chocolate chips in relation to batter, so i had to go through with a spoon and pick some out. However, if you would prefer more chocolate chips go for the whole thing. :)

The baking process...peeking in on the little fellas.

And the part I dislike of baking...having to wash the dishes. Though I must admit I'm thankful to have a dishwasher again after being without one in DC.

Softest chocolate chip cookies ever:
2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda

mix together in a bowl and set aside.

cream 1 cup of softened butter
1/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar, packed
4 serving package of instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp of vanilla
2 eggs

gradually add flour mixture. Batter will be stiff...i told you so
Then add 12 oz bag of chocolate chips...but really add 1/2 to 3/4 of the'll thank me later.

Add 1 cup of chopped nuts if you're digging it.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk. :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Washington DC: An Overview

Since I did a horrible job of keeping up with posting while I was in DC and I now have lots of free time on my hands I thought I would do a few review posts of Washington, DC. My favorite things to do and see and places to eat will be covered.

The view looking at the Capitol from the Old Post Office.

First off the best decision I made to have a worthwhile experience was choosing to live on Capital Hill. I lived near Eastern Market, which was about a 20 minute walk to the Rayburn building. It's a very quaint neighborhood. Cute little row houses side by side. Most of the people that lived in that area were young couples who worked on the Hill and some families. We did spot a couple of different members of Congress on the weekends wandering around the Eastern Market farmers' and flea market. This farmers' market was a great place to look around and shop on the weekends. My Sunday routine usually consisted of going to church at St. Peter's then grabbing a pretzel and lemonade from a vendor in Eastern Market. I would then meander through the market and usually ended up buying some fruit to take with me for lunch during the week. The market building inside reminded me of the Central Market in Florence.

Though I was able to buy some food items at either the Roland's grocery store on Pennsylvania Avenue or at Eastern Market, I would try and go the supermarket once ever two weeks. It was about 10 blocks away so finding the time to get over there and back while hauling groceries on the Metro was something I tried to limit.

Eastern Market in the's much more enjoyable in the warmth.

Thinking about hauling groceries from my place to the store makes me think about my first weekend in DC. I did more walking in one day than was entirely necessary, mainly because I couldn't ever figure out the bus system. I remember starting my day off by wanting to go down to the Mall by bus. I walked up to where the bus was supposed to be only to find it wouldn't be there for 15 minutes. I'm not a very patient person so I didn't really want to wait in one place for that long so I took off walking to the west. I walked all the way to the Newseum which was about 16 blocks from where I was at. Whew!

After spending most of my afternoon in there I hauled it back to church which was only about 10 blocks from the Newseum and then walked home after church. That was only day one.

The next day my roommate and I decided to explore the Eastern Market/Barracks Row area and then grocery shop. We ended up walking about 24 blocks that afternoon, including 10 blocks walking with loaded bags of groceries in the late August heat. Needless to say that was a good introduction to how DC works...walk, walk, walk.

So while this post took a bit of a detour with my weekend walking story, two tips I have to give is if you're interning: live on the Hill and be prepared to walk. If you're in DC visiting, while the Metro gets you close to all the great tourist spots, be prepared to walk or dish out some money for a taxi because they still are quite spread out.